Family farm holidays in Cornwall magical for children, toddlers and babies.
Coombe Mill Blog
"Tales from the farmers wife" shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
Every family begins to build up its own traditions over the Christmas holidays and we are no exception. I spoke last weekend about our local weekend away for family time and Christmas shopping together. This week I’m sharing another of our favourite winter holiday activities, watching the horse racing. Our local showground is Wadebridge, just 20 minutes from us and where the kids go to school. It is home to the Royal Cornwall show in summer and a whole host of other events throughout the year. The Christmas point to point is one we have attended for the past 3 years and it is always a fun day and surprisingly good value for money, if the bets go your way!
Coombe Mill is in the most beautiful sheltered valley and the Royal Cornwall show ground is on the top of an exposed hill, well I don’t know how old you need to be to understand that the temperature will be vastly different, but no amount of telling the triplets to wrap up warm would work. We gave up and just threw a few extra jumpers and jackets of ours in the car for good measure. Sure enough they were frozen by the biting wind in seconds and piling on the layers from the car! Thankfully placing bets takes place in the big barns which is sheltered from the elements.
Despite being farmers, we know nothing about horse racing and place our bets with a team vote over a name we like and a hunch on watching the horses in the parade ring
For the first three races we felt like we should have been offered a bet on the losing horse, as it always seemed to be ours despite our braving the cold on the side lines and cheering. But finally our moment came in race four and Guy’s choice of horse came in first. We only had a £5 bet on each race to win but that one £30 win was enough to have us break even on the day.
Guy and Farmer Nick couldn’t have looked more delighted, you’d think they’d won a fortune!
We put our winnings to good use rewarding ourselves with some excellent pasties and coffee against the cold.
There are always some lovely outdoor clothing and craft stalls to wander round between races too and I found myself picking up a couple of lovely unexpected presents there.
Our last race was a maiden race and we hedged our bets with an each way bet. Lucky we did as our horse came in second and paid out again. We left in high spirits despite the biting cold wind and headed home to warm up and enjoy the roast I had on low it the oven.
We certainly won’t be put off another flutter on the horses in future.
Helpful hints for winter horse racing at Wadebridge:
Entry is just £10 for adults on entry. Under 16’s go free
I’m back tracking in Country Kids this week to where Christmas begins for us way back in early December. Don’t you just love a good family tradition? Well our pre Christmas treat is a weekend away in Devon at the hotel Nick and I went to on Honeymoon back in 1995. It used to just be Nick and I, but for the last 3 years, as they kids have grown up, we take the whole family and we all look forward to it each year. The kids adore all the sports, I love seeing them together and having 2 days with no cooking!
It may only be 2 nights but we really pack in so much. The Hotel is situated just a short walk from the sea and I couldn’t resist an evening walk down there to watch the sun set when we arrived while the kids and Nick hit all the sports on offer. I only just made it but at the end of a glorious winter’s day it was simply stunning. So much so I actually dedicated a post to the scene that week.
Anyone for golf?
Golf is Farmer Nick’s big passion outside of the farm and the reason he choose this hotel for us all those years ago. The little 9 hole course is really challenging with trees, bunkers and ponds to catch you out. In all the years I have played, my game is still woeful, but my teens can hit a mighty dive and really seemed to be enjoying playing this year.
Tennis championship in progress
Golf was interspersed with Tennis out on the enclosed courts. The triplets had an advantage here after playing at a friend’s house back in the summer.
A stroll around the grounds
The grounds themselves are beautiful and the last of the leaves were still clinging on despite it being December giving a lovely backdrop to stroll with Clio
The outdoor pool was closed for winter but the kids spent hours in the indoor pool and over at the badminton courts. They have all been in the Badminton club at school and we had hours of tournaments interspersed with a few squash games.
With so much to do right at the hotel it was hard to persuade anyone to leave. However the older 3 came with us to the local estuary town of Kingsbridge for a little shopping in the festive Christmas market up the high street, I’m not sure their shopping went much further than street food though!
A Family Tradition to remember
Both Nick and I had a stinking cold while we were there but even that couldn’t detract from a weekend that gave us so much pleasure. The huge hole in our wallet was worth every penny to see our 6 growing teens having the most fun time together. Listening to the banter, seeing them all dressed up for dinner and watching their competitive spirit tampered by a caring concern for one another was the biggest Christmas present of all for me. What more does any parent want?
I have to be honest, I don’t like January. There we are I’ve said it. Well until this a January anyway. We had the wettest and mildest Christmas and New Year for some time, it was fine for getting out and we were in the sea loads, but I missed cold crisp days and sunshine. Then along came January. The sunny days hit me like a breath of fresh air. We couldn’t wait to visit the beach, but instead of diving into the sea to escape the rain we have enjoyed the dry air of the beach, the coast path and the stunning scenery of the North Cornwall Coast. Last Sunday was so crystal clear that even with just my phone the photo quality is passable. Hello January sunshine, I hope you are going to hang around!
Clio soaking up the January Sunshine on the rocks at Polzeath
Trying and failing to spot Alistair who was in the sea surfing without getting wet feet myself.
Guy marooned on a desert island – or rock surrounded by the incoming tide.
You never know when in the year the good weather will come, but when it does the farm, the beaches and the moorlands of Cornwall are simply stunning. With February half term and Easter on the horizon do gives us a thought in your holiday plans. There is always plenty to do here whatever the weather brings and Polzeath beach featured here is under 1/2 an hour by car.
We make no secret of loving the beach at any time of the year; however one of my favourite days to visit is Christmas Day. The weather doesn’t need to be perfect, just warm enough to face changing into a wetsuit and dry enough not to ruin a walk. Christmas Day this year delivered on both these criteria with the typically Cornish mix of warm with outbreaks of drizzle and occasional sunshine. Just to further encourage a family beach visit Jed had a surf board for his Christmas present which he opened with great excitement here in the morning and couldn’t wait to test it out.
Everyone has their own Christmas Day traditions, ours is Stockings in the morning, followed by feed run with the guests and then family cooked brunch.
Refuelled by something warm to eat, we head out for a walk, preferably to the beach, while the Turkey cooks for an early evening Christmas dinner. I like it this way as it ensures I manage to join the family for the daylight hours and not be left stuck in the kitchen cooking. With the window wipes on and off during the car journey to the beach I had my doubts about our plan this year, however the kids were keen and who am I to stop their fun. Half of us hit the waves while half walked the beach and coast path. I left Theo with the camera so he is responsible for most of the beach photos.
I hadn’t thought to bring my long lens and really wanted to capture Jed trying out his new surf board so I risked my camera in the water and waded in while Theo held my surf board. I even managed a couple of little video clips before a wave nearly had me over and the camera ruined for good!
After nearly an hour in the water I had to drag the kids out, they were going blue but still having a wonderful time on their Christmas Day surf.
Changing back on the beach is the most unpleasant part, but we made up for it with the heating on high in the car going home and a wonderful traditional Christmas dinner within a couple of hours of being home.
I always say kids are like puppies, they need a good dose of exercise every day in order to relax quietly. Surfing and sea air clearly did the trick; they all played Monopoly and watched films with us in the living room late into the night. It was my perfect balanced Christmas Day.
It has become a bit of a pre Christmas tradition for us to take a family weekend break in the run up to Christmas. A little Christmas shopping and a good burst of family time at the end of a busy holiday season and ahead of the festive break. This was last weekend and we were blessed with arriving on the most glorious winter afternoon just before sunset. How could I resist? As the kids headed for the hotel sports and Nick the golf course, the photographer in me grabbed my camera and headed the short walk down to the beach to capture the sunset and relax into our weekend. I’ll share more about our busy weekend in a future post, but for now here is the view that greeted me, I hope you’ll agree, it was worth the walk and sitting in the winter sand to capture. Despite being bitterly cold and losing all feeling in my fingers, the glow from the winter sun makes it look much warmer than the reality.
From the Coast path a first glimpse of the sun.
A huge ball of fire out to sea.
Down on sunset beach watching the reflection across the water.
As the sun begins to disappear over the horizon a burnt orange glow fills the sky.
I hurry back up the coast path while I can still see my way.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.